Earnings

Roche 2019 net profit rises by a third, forecasts 2020 growth

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Key Points
  • Full-year net profit was 14.1 billion Swiss francs ($14.57 billion), up from 10.9 billion francs in 2018, the company said.
  • Sales rose to 61.5 billion francs, up 9% at constant exchange rates and matching the company's target of high single-digit sales growth.
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Roche's 2019 net profit rose nearly a third as rising sales of newer drugs like Hemlibra and Ocrevus offset the declines of its older, off-patent medicines. Goodwill writeoffs were also lower, the Swiss drugmaker said on Thursday.

Full-year net profit was 14.1 billion Swiss francs ($14.57 billion), up from 10.9 billion francs in 2018, the company said. Sales rose to 61.5 billion francs, up 9% at constant exchange rates and matching the company's target of high single-digit sales growth.

Roche adopted nearly identical guidance from the start of last year, calling for 2020 sales to grow in the low- to mid-single digit range at constant exchange rates, with core earnings per share growth broadly matching that.

Roche's newer drugs including Ocrevus for multiple sclerosis, Hemlibra for rare haemophilia A and Alecensa for mutated lung cancer all posted strong sales growth. That helped mitigate pressure on Roche's trio of cancer medicines -- Rituxan, Herceptin and Avastin -- that face growing competition from copies in Europe and now the United States.

"Based on the progress made in rejuvenating our portfolio, Roche is very well positioned to grow going forward," Chief Executive Severin Schwan said.

A photo showing the logo of Swiss pharmaceutical giant Roche in Basel.
SEBASTIEN BOZON | AFP | Getty Images

"For 2020 we expect sales growth in the low- to mid-single digit range in spite of the even greater impact of the competition from biosimilars."

Of the older medicines, Avastin was able to grow, rising 4% to 7.1 billion francs, the top Roche seller. Herceptin slipped 12% to 6 billion francs as biosimilars took market share but also because patients switched to Kadcyla, another Roche drug. Rituxan sales fell 4% to 6.5 billion francs.

It proposed raising its dividend to 9 francs per share.